In February, Simple Flying reported the launch of Bombardier’s new 50-seater regional commercial aircraft, the CRJ550. With United Airlines as the launch carrier, Bombardier will see the first regional US-routes serviced by the end of this month out of United’s Chicago hub. With a lack of alternatives in the 50-seater market, it will be interesting to see which other airlines could order the CRJ550. US regional airlines may just benefit the most, as the market for premium regional travel becomes more lucrative.
The CRJ550 is a regional jet aircraft, developed by Bombardier from the CRJ700 model. The 550 has been designed as the world’s first three-class 50-seater regional aircraft, with United Airlines serving as the launch carrier. The aircraft will operate with 10 first class seats, 20 in economy plus, and 20 in economy.
As far as premium regional air travel goes, the 550 allows United to tap into an ever-growing market, with its first routes commencing by the end of October. These routes will be operated by GoJet on behalf of United, based out of its Chicago’s O’Hare hub.
With options limited in jet-powered 50-seater aircraft, Bombardier’s latest model is set to benefit regional airlines, especially those operating in the United States.
US regional airlines to benefit
With the introduction of the CRJ550 by United Airlines, regional airlines in the US may be set to benefit the most. Based on the CRJ700, the latest aircraft is a premium regional travel option that can readily be introduced by regional airlines, especially those already using the 700-model.
Delta Connection, for instance, currently operates 46 Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft in the 50-70 seat market. These aircraft are operated by GoJet, SkyWest, and Endeavour Air respectively.
With initial CRJ550s being re-modeled out of existing CRJ700s instead of being constructed from scratch, there is an opportunity for regional US carriers to expand into the premium regional travel market relatively quickly.
American Eagle also operates a large fleet of Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft, but it also operates the Embraer ERJ-140 and -145 jet aircraft. Significantly, these 50-seaters offer the bare minimum in terms of flight experience, with a cramped seat-layout.
Bombardier’s CRJ550 provides an alternative in the 50-seat market, that allows for premium options on regional commercial travel.
Will the CRJ550 feature for Horizon Air?
Another regional carrier that will be very interested in ordering the CRJ550 aircraft, is Horizon Air. The Washington-based carrier has a current fleet of 35 Bombardier De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 turboprop aircraft, many of them flying in the colors of western United States universities. Would the CRJ550 be an attractive alternative for the regional carrier, and would it enable them to reach into the premium regional market?